How To Respond to Negative Feedback From a Client on Opwork

Last updated on July 11, 2020

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I don’t know if its happened to you, but it sure has happened to me.I’m talking about receiving negative feedback from a client on freelancing sites such as Odesk and Elance.

I took the liberty to go through feedback that had been given to a couple of freelancers on various sites.  Some clients had given really negative feedback to the freelancers they had worked with and quite a low rating. I am not privy to the facts as there are different reasons why a client may do this. Some reasons are genuine while other clients are simply difficult to please.

These are just some of the comments I came across:

“Freelancer did not follow specific instructions given. I had to redo the whole job. When I contacted freelancer about deficiencies she refused to respond to my concerns.” Feedback given – 2.5

“Elancer did one job for me with no issues. Asked for more work.
I gave her more work, she stopped communicating. I’m so  disappointed. Never again!!” Feedback given – 1.0

No one likes to receive bad feedback but it can happen. And it  happened to me.

“Say it ain’t so Sheeroh!’

Oh, yes it did and here’s the story.

Sometime in February this year, I worked for a client who needed transcription services. I found the client via oDesk. The audio was difficult but happy to land the contract, I started working. There was only one speaker,a Taiwanese man with a very thick accent. Having been given a good TAT, I typed away.

However, about six hours later, out of the blue, the client decided  that he wanted his transcript earlier than we had agreed. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why.

I knew I couldn’t manage the change in TAT given the thick accent  that the speaker had, among other issues. I therefore told him that I could only manage to send him what I had transcribed so far if it was extremely urgent.

After sending him the transcript, we both agreed to end the contract. He very nicely reminded me to leave him good feedback as he was going to do the same.

End of story?

Not exactly.  The feedback he gave left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I clearly remembered he had said I should leave him good feedback as he would do the same. I felt so cheated!

Luckily, I had the chance to respond to the negative feedback.  Also, because I have experience working on Odesk, I decided not to leave any feedback for this client immediately, but to wait until 14 days had elapsed. Call it a gut feeling. If you’ve worked on Odesk, you know that the feedback appears on your profile after 14 days whether you have left feedback for the client or not.

But where am I really going with this?

I want to show you the various ways you can respond to negative feedback should it happen to you.

First off all, do not respond to the negative comment immediately.
You might be upset but you need to ask yourself whether that comment represents the true picture. Truth be told, sometimes freelancers just don’t meet the expectations of the client.

Here are some strategies.

1. Hiding Your Feedback

The worst way to deal with negative feedback in my opinion is to hide it. The first thing that comes to a potential client’s mind when you hide the feedback is why in the world would this freelancer have gone to the extent of hiding the comment? Was it that bad? Frankly, I think it looks suspicious and the client may end up imagining something far worse than what the actual negative feedback was about.

2. Respond to the Feedback

Respond professionally, I might add. This is your chance to give  your side of the story. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions and come off sounding defensive, angry and bitter. Make sure your feedback is brief, straight to the point and not rude. Your potential clients will be taking this into account before hiring you therefore your response is very important.

3. Contact the client and fix the issue

If the issue can be fixed it is advisable to fix it.  This may be a revision of an article, thorough proofreading of a transcript etc.  Ask the client if they are willing to edit the feedback if you make the necessary changes. This will not be a problem if you’re dealing with a reasonable, level-headed person. Inform the client that a positive feedback means a lot to your online reputation and your freelancing career.

All the same, is it the end of the world if this were to happen to you? Certainly not! I have received more jobs even after that unfortunate experience.

One thing I did was to send bids for small contracts, you know, 20 minutes transcription, 30 minutes transcription as I was aiming for the feedback. It wasn’t long before I was back on my feet again.

Did I say back on my feet? Actually, I never fell in the first place. Luckily, I had received great feedback from my other clients so this particular one did not affect my overall rating at all.

The point is treat your clients right and when you do come across  a difficult client, it will not severely affect your ratings. Always take the feedback seriously and think about how you can improve and grow as a freelancer.

Positive feedback on many freelancing sites is important as it determines whether you will rank higher on searches, thus increasing your chances of getting more jobs.

Negative feedback is definitely not the end of your freelancing career. Look at where you need to make adjustments and move confidently ahead.

Now, it’s your turn. Has this ever happened to you? I’d love to hear  from you.

And of course, you know the drill; SHARE the love on your social networks. Let’s share this message that there is WORK and money to be made ONLINE!

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About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • Yesterday, I was reading in another group, and the negative feedback was the main point of discussion. This was for on-line sales. The truth is , some customers are very difficult to please.

    • That’s true Omollo. There are difficult clients in every business. Sometimes freelancers are to blame too – other times its just a matter of communication breakdown.

  • Such an enlightening article. Negative feedback is a positive thing that can occur to a freelancer. Its main undoing is the cost at which the positivity in terms of experience comes. Like Omollo says some customers are just hard to please. I had a Chinese client who could type all the unprintable even when she had given wrong instructions. It is part of the trade and adapting to such situations is the way forward.

    • Thanks very much for your input Brian! We adapt and we learn as we grow in our freelancing business.

  • Hi Sheeroh, I’m a noob on Odesk. What does it mean when the client’s feedback is hidden until you give him your feedback. Does that mean that he has already wrote the feedback and will only show up on my profile once I give him my feedback? What really happens when it’s past 14 days since the contract ended and I still haven’t given him any feedback? Will his feedback ever show up on my profile?

    • Hi Jane! Yes, when you see client’s feedback is hidden till you give him feedback, it means exactly that. Leave feedback for the client and you’ll immediately see what he/she has said. If you don’t, it’ll still appear after 14 days. It will appear on your profile.

  • […] Rejection is part and parcel of being a freelancer. Ouch, that doesn’t feel good does it? You’ve put your heart and soul into writing an article only for the client to ask for a revision. Or maybe you’ve created a really cool logo for a client in one of the freelancing sites only for the client to give you a rating of 4 out of 5. Rejection is never easy to take and it stings. Learn from the rejection, learn from the negative feedback and keep working. […]

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